More than 30 students limped, shuffled and dragged themselves to the Old Burying Ground on Barrington Street on Nov. 5 to protest tuition increases and funding cuts at Nova Scotia universities.
Students from Dalhousie, King’s, Nova Scotia College of Arts and Design (NSCAD), Mount Saint Vincent and Saint Mary’s were draped in ripped clothing, smeared with fake blood, and carrying protest signs for the zombie-themed rally entitled Night of the Living Debt.
Many students moaned zombie-themed chants, such as, “Brains,” or shouted, “I say drop, you say debt!” as they made their way down Spring Garden Road.
Dalhousie Student Union, King’s Students’ Union and NSCAD’s students’ union organized the march.
The students were protesting tuition hikes and government cuts to university funding, says John Hutton, a DSU organizer of the march.
“It’s a fun way to raise awareness to the student debt that’s crippling us all,” said Hutton. “We want government to reverse their policies and invest more money in post-secondary education.”
In October the provincial government announced it would be cutting three per cent of university funding in 2013, amounting to a $10 million loss for the province’s ten universities.
“I say drop, you say debt!”
The average undergraduate tuition in Nova Scotia has also increased this year by 3.7 per cent – from $5,722 in the 2011/2012 school year to $5,934. Only Ontario and Saskatchewan undergraduates pay more – respectively $7,180 and $6,017, on average.
A three per cent tuition increase and a three per cent funding cut to universities will bury graduates in debt, says Rebecca Rose, the Maritime organizer at the Canadian Federation of Students. The CFS reports Nova Scotia students carry an average $31,000 in debt by graduation.
“We’re trying to keep student debt and high tuition fees at the top of the agenda,” said Rose, “and next election we’ll have the political parties talking about how they’ll actually reduce student debt and make education more affordable.”